A lot of what conveyancers do boils down to one thing: communication. Yes, there’s all kinds of specialist knowledge required about the processes involved in a purchase, but all of that knowledge exists within the context of sharing the information involved between the parties concerned in a timely fashion. Do that, and the wheels run smoothly, and all is as it should be.
That objective is the one aimed for by everyone I’ve met within the profession. And I assumed that was the case more generally. Only, that turns out not to be so - the truth is less straightforward. This is something I discovered when a solicitor who registered on this site said she’d love to be using InTouch, and had spoken to her partners about it. The response she received was that they didn’t wish to participate in a system which makes it clear just what stage a transaction is at. Their fear was that this would expose them to criticism about delays, and prompt clients to complain about why such and such hasn’t yet been done.
In practice, the opposite is the case: people using InTouch have commented that being updated about what’s happening is beneficial for everyone involved. What’s interesting is that some people, like the partners at that solicitor’s firm, are fearful of that. And what that comes down to is actually about more than communication - it’s to do with accountability. It’s only possible to assess someone’s capabilities and judge whether they’ve fulfilled a promise - professional or otherwise - when you’re clear about the facts involved.
Without that, there’s fog and mystery, and it’s difficult to be sure what’s going on.
All of this is reminiscent of the old Soviet Union. It took Mikhail Gorbachev to sweep the old habits of obfuscation and overly complicated bureaucracy away with his reforms. There were two elements to what Gorbachev introduced to modernise his nation. Perestroika referred to the structural changes necessary for change to happen effectively. And there were implemented with the desire to create what was termed glasnost. And glasnost, more or less, means transparency.
If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear from being open about what you do. Simple as that. And I’m sure the overwhelming majority of professionals in conveyancing accept that. To ensure that openness becomes the norm, and encourage those who prefer to shroud their activities in mystique to come clean, maybe it’s time for a change in the profession. Maybe it’s time for some glasnost of our own.